Over the last two years, we have seen an unprecedented shift toward working from home as organizations increasingly adopt remote and hybrid models. According to a Gallup study from 2021, 45% of full-time U.S. employees currently work in these models, and this number is steadily increasing. What's more, is that only 3% of employees want to go back to full-time in-office work after the pandemic, and 74% of professionals and entrepreneurs agree that remote work will become the norm, Forbes reports. While the transition to at-home work has kept employees safe and even boosted productivity, it's important to recognize the challenges inherent in these novel work models — specifically the issues around maintaining a strong company culture with a dispersed workforce.
What is company culture, and why is it important?
Company culture refers to the shared values, attitudes, practices and behaviors of the company as a whole, as well as on a granular employee level. It's the product of individual and group decisions, leadership styles, expectations and objectives and reflects the overall company mission. Defining the values of your company's culture is crucial to ensure your employees know their expectations and can work together to achieve the company's goals.
In remote work settings with geographically dispersed employees, it can be challenging to maintain a positive and consistent company culture, especially without regular interactions. This makes it all the more essential to cultivate a culture through clear and deliberate action and communication. Without a supportive work community, employees can quickly burn out from feeling undervalued and unappreciated. But how can companies improve their culture while working remotely?
Building a positive company culture while working from home
Here are the three essential steps for dispersed workforces to create a positive company culture:
- Open and honest communication
When it comes to fostering a supportive company culture, whether in or out of the office, transparent communication is absolutely essential. Be open and honest when talking with your employees, and keep an open-door policy for their comments and concerns. If we've learned anything from the Great Resignation, it's that people don't quit their jobs; they quit their bad managers.
- Remember why you hired your employees
One of the best ways to maintain a positive culture is to demonstrate that you have trust in your employees — after all, you hired them because you were confident in their abilities within your company. Avoid micro-managing every aspect of their workday, and have faith that they will carry out their duties without strict schedules or monitoring.
- Encourage a healthy work-life balance
Nothing shows your employees you value them as people more than flexible schedules and a healthy work-life balance. As a leader, it's your job to recognize that, sometimes, life just gets in the way of work. Accommodating your employees' needs with flexible policies and additional support like child care options creates an incredibly supportive work culture and alleviates stress that would otherwise bleed into work life.
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